Paint me a Promise & A Hundred Bucks

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Art:  "Seeds from Heaven"
Art: "Seeds from Heaven" | Source

~A Hundred Bucks~

Around a decade ago, I operated a mobile DJ service.

I traveled from town to town most every weekend playing at weddings and anniversary parties. I had completed a big gig in Detroit at a plush yacht club and was fairly tuckered out. The agent called on the sweltering Sunday afternoon during a heat wave. “Hey RJ, you gotta do a job for me tonight.”

“Yeah.” I could tell he was desperate. He often made promises and then had problems backing up his sales pitches.

“Yeah, a call came in and I figured you could handle it. It only pays a hundred bucks—“

“I don’t know, a hundred bucks— that sounds pretty puny to—“

“We gotta do this for the Kipper. Let me tell ya, I tried to get the fee up a bit and explained that most everything is booked a year ahead. It’s a Sunday night and found money. Hey, we call all use an extra hundred. I’m gonna skip my commission. Keep the entire thing. It’s only ten miles out of town.”

He knew I would do it before he called. I loved entertaining. “Ok, tell me where it is and I’ll do it, but you owe me one, buddy.”

“It’s some hillbilly hall out in the middle of a cornfield north of town.”

Yeah—he was correct. The corn was seven foot tall in every direction and the hall was somewhere in the middle of it. I was tell’n myself that I would get in—get out—and call it a night. I could see the waves of unholy heat wavering over the hall and the corn. Beat-up jalopies filled the parking lot. I arrived inside hoping for some air-conditioning. Nope—no air-conditioning—God help me. I looked around and could see this was not going to be the usual tux affair like the night before.

The groom shook my hand dressed in jeans and tennis shoes. “I’ want to thank you for coming on such short notice.” He was pleasant enough and his bride was equally gracious.

It was a ramshackle affair in one of the tiniest halls I had ever seen and I estimated it must have held around eighty people or so. Moose heads lined the wall, no kitchen, no stage—I hope they have indoor plumbing and electricity. “What about air-conditioning? It is hotter than the devil in here.”

“They don’t have it, sorry.”

He proudly pulled an envelope from his back pocket. “Here’s the hundred. The agent said to pay you the moment you walked in the door.”

I stuffed the envelope into my pocket and was beginning to think I should have told the agent to take a hike. This is not going to be a picnic. I began dragging in my equipment and felt anger taking over. Forget the tux. I was already covered with perspiration. I brought out the fans that I carried with me and knew I would make it with fans blowing the hundred degree heat all around me. I would need to stay in front of the fans all night or I would pass out.

Yep—I gotta do this gig and get the devil out of here. I looked at my watch. At midnight, I would be gone. That was the contract—not one minute more.

I had everything set up and then strolled to the back of the hall.

It was a “bring your own dish to pass” affair and the homemade dishes sat strewn about helter-skelter. Guests spooned cold macaroni, and beans onto paper plates and made a sandwich.

I chatted with the bride and groom. “We are going to Montana and I hope to get a job at a dude ranch.”

“You have the job all lined up, then?” I decided I wasn’t that hungry.

His bride hugged his side. She was radiantly dressed in jeans and broadcast a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon. “There are no jobs here. It is his dream to work at a dude ranch. We’ll make the rounds when we get there. I love horses too. Maybe we can both get work there.”

While I was listening to this, I glanced at the table near the back wall.

There it was—the wedding cake.

It sat in a Meijer’s Thrifty Acres box—a sheet cake that probably cost around $12.95. Grandma had brought her tubes of icing and drew their names on it, “Butch and Marsha.” She must have picked up the plastic cake top at Meijer’s too and sat it in the middle. There were horses at one end with a corral holding them in. The icing was melting off the cake and sat in little puddles.

I was swept with emotion when I saw it.

I stood there beside the cake, looked at the ragtag guests, the dilapidated hall, the corrugated box to hold the cards…and then I knew. The one hundred dollars was a fortune for these people. They had never planned on entertainment because they were penniless. Such an extravagance could never be considered. Someone had come up with a hundred dollars at the last moment and it was a dream come true to have music by a local celebrity. If there was any chance of this affair being a success, it would because I made it so.

I took another look at the guests. There was not a bad bone among them. No drunkenness, no feuds going on behind the scenes. The children were not running wild around the hall. It could have been worse—much worse. In fact they were more gracious than the yacht club crowd the night before where I was considered to be the “hired help.” I was so put off by their antics that I started the evening with “Putt’n on the Ritz” and they never caught on.

Tonight was different.

This was two families celebrating the wedding of their son and daughter in the in the barest of surroundings. The future before them was uncertain at best. Hope filled the air.

I decided at that moment, this would be the best show I ever put on in my lifetime. I would use every crowd pleasing trick I had come to learn from decades of experience. Yes, this will be an event they will remember for a lifetime.

I began the music while the fans kept me cool. I ran contests and turned the affair into the party of their dreams. Grandma hobbled for the door. “Where are you going?” I asked.

“I gotta get home.” A cane propped her up.

A little girl at her side said, “It’s Grandma’s birthday!”

“What? You are leaving the party and it’s your birthday?” I was incredulous.

I had the microphone in my hand. “Hey everybody— it’s Grandma Vern’s birthday. I’m officially declaring this to be a wedding reception AND GRANDMA’S BIRTHDAY! How old is she? “I’m sorry; we are keeping that a secret—shame on you for asking!” We sang happy birthday to Grandma Vern and had the guests taking turns dancing with her. She was there right to the end along with everyone else.

I took the bride aside and ran “Paint me a Promise” by her. We sat the groom on a chair while she sang it to him. She possessed the voice of an angel and everyone was in tears when she hit the last notes. I brought out the hats and canes and we put on a spectacular song and dance review of “New York,New York.”

The midnight hour came and went with little notice as we all were having a great time of it.

One AM arrived.

Guests were shaking my hand and everyone chipped in and carried out my equipment for me. The cake was half eaten and being packaged up by an aunt. I looked around the nearly vacant hall. It was a grand reception that they will talk about for many years to come. I knew that with certainty. I smiled, and wiped a speck of dirt from my eye. It must have been the dust blowing off the cornfields.

I dropped the pay envelope into the card box on the way out.


Reynold Jay with his DJ Show.
Reynold Jay with his DJ Show. | Source

Paint Me a Promise


I'm not going to promise you the rainbow,

Nor riches of silver and gold.

I'm hoping that you'll simply love me,

You'll be mine to have and to hold.

Please whisper sweet nothings in my ear

And say you want my love tonight.

Say the words I want to hear

Put your arms around me, turn out the light.

Chorus

PAINT ME A PROMISE that says you love me;

A Promise that you'll always be true

PAINT ME A PROMISE that will last forever

And darling I will fall in love with you

2. I know forever is a long, long time

For a lover to be true.

I'm just looking way down the line;

I want to live my life with you.

You ask me if I will be your lover

You say you want my love tonight;

But I wonder, “Will it be forever?"

Or is the passion in the quiet of the night?”

Chorus/instrumental chorus/chorus

Coda

And darling I will fall in love with you!

*************

@1986 Reynold Jay

If you enjoyed this song, you might enjoy other songs by Reynold Jay.

Deep Blue Water

Plain Black Cover

More about vinyl album or CD of "Passing Stranger"

More by this Author


Comments 43 comments

Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

Wow, what a touching and well told story. Thanks so much for sharing. It's the first time at hub I hit the 'beautiful' button.


Sueswan 5 years ago

Tears welled up in my eyes. Thank you for sharing this touching and beautiful story. I hope the couple are still married and happily in love.


carriethomson profile image

carriethomson 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi thank u so much for this hub. it was very touching and it shows that there are still people who value human emotions more than money, and it was a sweet gesture to make the wedding memorable for a couple and make it a great b'day for a grandma.

i voted this up, and also hit the beautiful butoon :) loved it


angie ashbourne profile image

angie ashbourne 5 years ago

Hi! Reynold WOW, Good Hub. I like the poem. Angie


Teylina profile image

Teylina 5 years ago

Like the poem, love the story, and love your giving spirit! Awesome read! Thank you for sharing it! From what I've seen of this world, they've probably fared better than the couple from the night before!


emichael profile image

emichael 5 years ago from New Orleans

Amazing how easily we turn our noses up at something. Even some people. At least you posses the tenderness to recognize when it's happening and the humility to do something about it.

Very touching story, Reynold. Glad you shared it with us.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan Author

Sue Swan--We will never know for sure, but like you, I'd bet they are happy and own their own deud ranch in Montana.

Carrie-I've learned to "Let the money go" a long time ago. In the grand scheme of things, it counts for very little. I discuss this in "Born to Be Rich."

Teylina--I'm voting YOU my as my best buddy of the month! Stay tuned as I'll have lots of song lyrics posted all month.

emichale--Thoughtful incitive comment. Your photo is enough to tell me that you possess the same qualities. IT will show up in the "Voice" of your writing and bring you to greatness.

To All-- I'll visit everyone's HUB today. Bless all of you. RJ


Motown2Chitown 5 years ago

I absolutely LOVE this hub, Mr. Jay. And, the dust from the cornfield got me too. ;-) What an awesome and beautiful and wonderful and amazing and heartwarming....well, you get the picture....story.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan Author

Yep--it turned out well I thought. One carries these stories around inside their head for decades and then one day it is time to get it down in print. I am beginning to appreciate my writing experience at this point as it is starting to flow much faster and little rewriting is needed. Glad you found this one. This HUB is getting a great response. RJ


amillar profile image

amillar 5 years ago from Scotland, UK

I can empathise with this Reynold. I used to gig for a living. Some places you go, they make you feel right at home - and these little village halls were often the best gigs of all.

Nice one.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan Author

Well now--you gigged too! It is a lot of fun and a lot of work. If you lived down the street, we would be best buddies and we'd be swaping experiences right now. I bet you have some stories along this line that would make good HUBS. I'd still be doing it exept the lugging around of all the equipment became exhausting and I didn't want to hire others to lug it around.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

Mr. Jay! This was a really touching story! Alas, you can tell by the beautiful comments. Thanks for sharing!


albertacowpoke profile image

albertacowpoke 5 years ago from Redwater, Alberta

A really touching hub and so real. We have a small hall in this neighborhood and sometimes the type of weddings you spoke off here. Really enjoyed this.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan Author

Hi Dexter- Thank you for the comment and stopping by today.

Albertacowpoke__The small older halls have a lot of appeal. The event is more intimate. Much diffetnet than entertaining hundreds at a time.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Sounds like some places I used to know.I probably was not as gracious as you. I'm curious about the term "disc jockey" When I was young it referred to a radio announcer that also played records on the air. Now it refers to someone playing records at a dance. A college friend of mine worked radio stations for a couple of years before going into the Peace Corps and back to school again.

very good hub.Rating it up and awesome.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan Author

Daghoglund... I think they still think of "disc jockey" as being in radio. Those with no radio broadcasting are "mobile disc jockies." I'm not that hip to the lingo and never did any of the record scratching and the rest of it. I was pretty much "old school" and the result was that I was popular with the older crowds who wanted to hear Franky and Satchmo more than "Bust a Move" although I knew how to tailor the music for any crowd. I did some raido broadcasting in college at the college station playing Bethovan etc. Music is a big part of my Seeds from Heaven series. Stories like this abound. Glad you liked it.


Jeanastra 5 years ago

I am a jaded individual who has tears streaming down her face from this touching story. Thank you for sharing.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan Author

Jeanastra--Thanks for the comment. From your photo, it reminds of the bride in the story. RJ


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

RJ. Thanks for a really lovely piece of writing. If it was a true story, I hope the bride and Groom have had a really happy life together.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan Author

I enjoy writing most everything in a fiction-like format when it comes to stories. Yep, all true. Thanks for the comment Christopher.


a1flowers profile image

a1flowers 5 years ago from Mumbai

I like the way you have written... nice poem..


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 5 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

Very nice song and a great story to go with it.

Classy!


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan Author

Aiflowers and CMerritt--Thank you for stopping by. RJ


deborahs the word profile image

deborahs the word 5 years ago from Georgia

I like inspirational positive stories, keep up the great work. I'm a fan


SusieQ42 5 years ago

Excellent hub, Reynold Jay! I loved it. Thanks for not taking the money!


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan Author

Yep---they needed it more than me!


SusieQ42 5 years ago

Yes, you'll be rewarded for that!


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Jay, this made me think of the many times I got volunteered as a fix it guy and went silently grumbling inside and found myself surrounded by folks who were in need and couldn't afford my fee to show up much less getting anything fixed, but the atmosphere of the surroundings changed my grumblings to a "happy to help" attitude, one I try to hold at every opportunity now days like your story here "all that glitters isn't always gold" and I think that is the key to passing the test of life.

Thanks for sharing a reminder of faith, dust


reynold jay 5 years ago

I thought you would enjoy this one. I think you have a HUB to write much like this one called the "Fix-it Guy."

Gosh--I really wish you lived down the street. RJ


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Jay, better you lived across the hill, I don't much care for sardine packaging these days, dust


chanroth profile image

chanroth 5 years ago from California, USA

I love this hub! :)


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan Author

I spent a bit of time looking over your HUBS and left a comment on one. Check out this one as you may find it useful for your publishing empire--

http://hubpages.com/literature/Watchdogg-Somalia-R...


vidhimayur profile image

vidhimayur 5 years ago

Reynold Jay....I must say dis was an awesome story and beautiful poem...humanity is still der in dis world and it is only because of people like you dat world is still a beautiful place. it was a nice gesture on ur part to have dropped the envelope in the cover box. god bless ya..!!:)


PoweroftheCross profile image

PoweroftheCross 5 years ago from Above and Beyond...

God bless you Reynald Jay. I'm hooked and a fan. This story is so meaningful. I love the ending and how you dropped the $100 in the cover box. Your writings shimmer, shake and all but cause an inner earthquake.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan Author

And your work does the same for me!


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 5 years ago from West Virginia

This is such a powerful story and poem that is well done. You have truly touched my heart Reynold Jay and your articles are always delightful. You have touched the soul on this one.


reynold jay 5 years ago

Thank you for taking time to check out this HUB. Glad you enjoyed it.


Enlydia Listener profile image

Enlydia Listener 4 years ago from trailer in the country

Reynold, this had me crying before I was halfway through...pure awesome.

My husband and I had a throw together wedding...33 years ago...no music...but we had a lot of loved ones around us that were happy that we "took the jump".

Blessings and thanks for listening to your heart.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 4 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan Author

You made my day! I try to reach the heart with many of my HUBS and I was happy to write this tale two decades after the experience. I would have loved to be there to entertain for you. Now the best I can do is write the HUBS and present the music.


Sky9106 profile image

Sky9106 4 years ago from A beautiful place on earth.

Bob Marley say "Wisdom" is better than silver and Gold.

Give THANKS AND PRAISES. it's the second time and still i know you, because of "Wisdom".


reynold jay 4 years ago

Sky9106--Thank you for stopping by and the comment.


savanahl profile image

savanahl 4 years ago

Wow shat a great hub! It brought tears to my eyes and the poem is beautiful.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 4 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan Author

Thank you both. Glad you enjoyed it.

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